Frequently Asked Questions
Does getting a tattoo hurt?
Some people claim to feel nothing but pressure or a slightly irritating feeling and nothing more. Some claim that it is "annoying". Others admit that it is quite painful but not totally unbearable. How it feels depends on the person. Each person, and how their body tolerates pain, is different. None will report the same exact sensation.
The feeling can range from cat scratch to burning to electricity or just the feeling of being written on very stiffly with a ballpoint pen. In the end, getting a tattoo feels like getting a tattoo.
Ladies please take note: You may notice that the sensation of the tattoo may be amplified if you're getting work done a week before or during your menstrual cycle...
How long does it take for a tattoo to heal?
Tattoo healing times can differ greatly from person to person. Most people are healed within 2 weeks, others can heal at a much slower rate. I've seen tattoos that have taken up to a month to heal. And just because it's healed on the outside, doesn't mean the tattoo is completely healed under the skin. Healing time can depend on the individual and their health. The better your health, the faster and easier you'll heal. Skin type can also be a factor in this.
Healing time can depend on the body part. Some areas will heal faster than others depending on how much you use the body part. Joints and places that flex or bend on a regular basis can take longer to heal. This includes hands and feet, which can take up to a full month to heal because of the difference in the texture of the skin in these spots.
Each artist works differently and certain individual techniques may overwork the skin and cause the tattoo to take a bit longer to heal. Tattoos that scab may often take a bit longer to heal than a tattoo that peels.
Does a tattoo always form a scab?
Nope. Some tattoos will scab, some will peel. Sometimes a tattoo will do both. Either is possible and quite normal. There is no way to predict whether your tattoo will scab or peel. This can vary with each individual and each tattoo as well as each body part and the aftercare used.
When I go to get my tattoo, what should I wear?
Wear something comfortable... and breathable. Layer clothing so that if you get overheated, you have a way to cool down. Wear old clothes... tattoo ink stains!
Wear something that allows the artist easy access to the area you'd like tattooed. The artist needs no more exposed than the area in which he or she is going to be working with a few inches surrounding to be able to wipe excess ink away.
Does one color hurt more than another?
Absolutely not. You'll hear some people saying that one color hurts more than another color. This makes no sense. It's not the color or ink that causes the sensation, it's the needles. You can run water through a tattoo machine and it will feel exactly the same way.
A lot of people claim that black ink hurts more. I've heard some claim that yellow and white ink (or very light colors) hurts more. Why? Black is normally the first color that hits the skin... and that can cause a bit of shock to the system. The skin hasn't been worked yet and the feeling is very new to your body. Once it goes on for a while you tend to adjust and get used to it.
White or other very light colors are often the last colors used. The skin has already been worked so it's a little tender by this point. Sometimes that last color can seem like the worst, especially since you're anticipating the end of the process and enjoying your new addition. This is what you've worked so hard for.
Does the needle have to go deeper to make the color darker?
Lets think about this logically. When you paint a wall in your home, does the paint come out of the brush a darker shade if you press harder on the brush? Of course not. If you desire a darker shade or a darker color, you must change the color of the paint... or in this case, the ink.
If the needle goes deeper does the color stay better?
Not really. If the artist runs the needle too shallow, then the ink has more of a chance of falling out as the epidermis heals and sheds the dead cells. If the artist goes too deep they run the risk of hitting the fat layer. When this happens, ink can spread beneath the skin creating blobs in the linework or a haze that might surround parts or all of the tattoo (that haze can also happen in areas where there is very thin skin). If the artist tries to 'grind in the ink', and overworks the skin, scabbing and scarring can occur, resulting in ink loss.
Can I have a few drinks to loosen me up before my tattoo?
Alcohol is a bloodthinner so it will cause you to bleed more. The excess flow of blood can cause immediate fading. Being that I take great pride in my work, I can't see wasting my time and effort putting all my love and energy into a piece if the person on the recieving end doesn't care what their ink looks like when it heals. My work is my signature and my good name. If it looks bad so do I.
The bottom line is that I'm not drunk when I work on you... show me the same respect. If I smell alcohol on you, you will not be tattooed. No exceptions.
Can I get a tattoo while I'm pregnant?
Um... I guess if you've got your mind set and a tattooist who's willing, yes... but it's highly unadvisable and I'd question the morals and ethics of that particular 'artist'. I don't know of even one reputable, professional tattoo artist that would be willing to knowingly tattoo a pregnant woman.
If a woman gets a tattoo on her abdomen and then decides to have children, will the tattoo stretch out of shape?
Will it ever go back to normal?
This depends solely on the individual.
Sometimes the abdomen will stretch but remain smooth, unmarred by stretchmarks. Most likely the tattoo will go back to normal in this situation. However, if stretchmarks do occur, they will run over the weakest areas of skin. Areas prone to easiest stretching would be where the skin was perforated before... if a stretchmark runs through your tattoo you have less than a 50% chance of it going back to normal, no matter what you do.
Stretchmarks from pregnancy have the potential to run anywhere from the tops of the thighs to just under the breasts and from hip to hip across. The weight of the baby is concentrated more towards the bottom of the abdomen, so placing a tattoo lower to avoid this is only putting it more in harms way.
Ladies, think very carefully about getting a tattoo in this area if you plan on having children and keeping your ink looking good. There's little to nothing you can do to completely prevent stretchmarks from occuring if it runs in your family. Even if it's skipped a generation...
Can stretchmarks and scars be covered by a tattoo?
They will still be noticable, but most of the time they can be tattooed over and disguised. I advise finding an artist who is experienced with working on these types of tissue as it can require more care when being tattooed. The scars or stretchmarks must be healed thoroughly (sometimes a year or more to be sure) or you may wind up with a mess...
Is it true that tattoos are addictive?
Yes, but not in the traditional sense... It's not very often that a person gets one tattoo and quits. They may even wait years before the next tattoo, but sooner or later they get back in 'the chair'. :)
Tomorrow is my 18th birthday. Can I get my tattoo now?
Nope. New York state law prohibits the tattooing of minors. There is no parental consent. I don't have any plans for breaking the law and I don't plan on being fined or doing jail time because you wanted a tattoo a few hours early. Sorry. You've waited this long, another day won't hurt. :P
I know what I want, but I can't draw it. Can you design a tattoo for me?
As an artist, I can and do design custom tattoos (in fact, I prefer it- a tattoo should be unique to the wearer), however, between working, designing flash and spending quality time with my family I can only design tattoos for people who will be clients of mine. I apologize and I do wish I could draw for everyone that requests it but unfortunately I would have no clue what to charge for an original custom piece that I would never be able to do on anyone else again. For these reasons I do not design or sell custom tattoos over the internet.
Hint- I like tattooing the designs that I create... ;)
I've seen ink that glows in the dark/under a blacklight. Can I get a tattoo like that?
Glow in the dark tattoos do not exist. Black light tattoos are very real. I often don't or won't do them due to the expense and hassle. Blacklight ink is interesting but tends to be much more spectacular in theory than in reality.
Can a tattoo be done in white ink?
Yes. Unfortunately, you have to get really lucky for a white tattoo to stay white. The paler you are, the better off you are, but finding an artist who works well with white and is willing to do a white tattoo may be difficult. I've done tattoos on people who soak up white like there's no tomorrow - but unfortunately, not everyone can hold white that well.
White generally stays better in small areas like highlights. Larger areas are a bit tougher, but on some people, not impossible. From what I've heard, most artists won't even bother with white... (which is really dissappointing) they won't even attempt to work with it. I, myself, would be lost without white. I love using it. I like it even better when it stays well...what you have to remember is that all colors are affected by the pigment of your skin, not just the white. Even though it may not show up perfectly paper white (it rarely ever does), if it shows, it shows up lighter than your skin tone- and that's the point. It may add a little more dimention and liveliness to a piece by making certain points stand out a bit more prominent.
A solid white tattoo with no black outline will not be very noticable. You may get a lot of questions asking if it's a scar, brand or some other form of mark, if anyone notices it at all. It will not stand out bold from your skin. If you tan, it will be even less noticable and may be one of the first things to fade with repeated sun exposure.
After working with it in small areas, your artist may be able to better decide if white will stand out and stay in your tattoo. Normally, the deeper the pigment of your skin, the less you'll notice white.
Why does my tattoo raise up from time to time?
Some scarring occurs with every tattoo. Most of the time it's not really noticable. When the tattoo becomes irritated the scar will raise up for a bit. This can be caused by sun exposure or sunburn, slapping, scratching, rough clothing or even stress. Given time to calm down, the tattoo will lay flat again. The same reaction commonly occurs with stretchmarks. If you have them, I'm sure you've noticed.
My tattoo is raised all the time. Why?
If the tattoo is raised constantly, chances are it's permanantly scarred. This can happen with sensitive skin or skin that's prone to keloiding. It can also happen if the artist goes too deep or overworks the area. There isn't really anything that can lessen the scar tissue.
I saw a picture in your tattoo gallery and it's perfect for me. Can I take it to my artist to have him/her tattoo it on me?
I feel a tattoo should be unique to the wearer. Many of my clients request custom work... some have ideas in mind that they've been planning for weeks, months and even years. Some make sure that everything in the tattoo has a specific meaning or symbolism. They and I have slaved over designs for hours getting everything right and putting it to skin. What right does anyone else have to take that artwork that is so very important to them and render it exactly on their skin. If you write to me asking to use a design in my gallery just the way it is, don't be surprised when you get a big no in response. I have no problem letting my art and tattoos influence and inspire another piece, but blatant copying is LAME and any professional will tell you the same thing . Be your own person.
I found the perfect picture of a tattoo in a magazine/on the internet/on pinterest. It's already set up just the way I want it. Can you tattoo it on me?
If a person comes to me to design a tattoo I give them my word that I will not reproduce it on anyone. It's the same if you come to me with a picture of someone elses tattoo. I can use it for inspiration and influence in a new design, but I will not copy it exact. If you're insisiting on getting it exact, all this shows me is a lack of respect for other people and a big lack of creativity and originality. I find it extremely dissapointing and sad that some people cannot figure out what means something to them and work from there.
Creativity and originality go a long way with me. ;)
What happens to the picture or artwork after I get a custom tattoo?
I can design a custom tattoo for you or you can bring in any artwork that you like. Once the tattoo is finished the stencil for that tattoo is destroyed. I do not keep custom artwork to add to the flash. I will not put personal artwork or art that's not specifically meant to be tattoo flash into public circulation. I have heard of this happening and, rest assured, this will not happen with me.
I've been thinking about teaching myself to tattoo. Do you have any advice that can help me out?
Seek out a professional apprenticeship under a qualified mentor. Even if you are working on your own, there will come a time when you can't learn anything more from books, videos or trial and error.
There is no such thing as "Self-Taught". Everyone who learns this trade does so through someone else. By watching or speaking to someone else.
I wouldn't be nearly as far as I am now without all the people who have helped me along the way. I consider myself very lucky to have come this far. It took a lot of hard work, sacrifice and suffering to put me where I am- and I'm still nowhere near where I could have been. I still have a lot to learn. The process is constant. It's when you think you know it all that you need to lay down your machines and leave the industry. No one knows everything there is to know... There's always someone who knows something more and can teach you things you didn't know the day before. :)
Find an artist you trust and get an apprenticeship. You'll thank yourself in the long run.
I have a tattoo appointment, but now I have a cold. Can I still get tattooed?
Technically you can, but the real question is SHOULD you? Probably not.
If you get tattooed and your immunity drops, it might be easier to catch a cold. If you get tattooed when you've just gotten over a cold or illness it is very possible to relapse. It's better to be in full health.
Not to mention... if you get tattooed when you're sick, you're also in close proximity to your artist, who does everything in their power to keep from getting sick. I can tell you from an artists perspective, call, cancel and STAY HOME!!! We can reschedule you easily when you're well again. If we get sick, not only do we risk passing it on to other clients before we realize we have it, but then we have to take off from work, cancel appointments and upset more people who have been waiting. Then we have to try to reschedule the clients we missed, which means working extra long days or working on days we'd normally have off. It severely throws off any routine schedule that we've set.
How can I prepare my body to get tattooed?
- Make sure the area to be tattooed is free of any wounds or adverse skin conditions, sunburn, razorburn (when in doubt, don't shave the area- we do that for you anyway).
Use a moisturizer on the area to be tattooed once a day for a week or two prior to getting tattooed to keep the skin supple and hydrated. This improves elasticity and keeps your skin from drying out, especially in the winter.
Remember to drink plenty of water. You should be doing this on a regular basis anyway.
Eat a healthy meal an hour or two before getting tattooed. Tattooing can take a lot out of you and requires a lot of energy.
You can bring a snack with you to munch on during breaks as well as something to drink to keep you hydrated.
Try not to stress yourself. A lot of people have great results with meditation or yoga before their appointments. It's worth a try if that's something you're into. Being comfortable and relaxed is the most beneficial.
How much does a tattoo cost?
This is probably THE question... and there's no easy straightforward answer for this. It's like asking someone 'how much is a bag of groceries'? It all depends on what's going into it.
At Inkpulsive, our rates are $140 an hour with a half an hour miniumum of $70. So anything a half an hour or less is $70. Of course if you don't sit for a full hour then we approximate the cost. You don't have to pay for a full hour you didn't sit through. We only charge you for needle time, so if we're making adjustments to the drawing beforehand or drawing directly on you or if we're taking a break, you're not paying extra for that.
Keep in mind that the national average is about $150 an hour... but it really depends on the shop, the artist and the location in this country. Some shops will charge as little as $100 an hour and some are far above the norm. It really depends on so many different factors. I'll be addressing all of that in a future blog post.